Ch 8.4 Author Brand in the Digital Age
So, it's 12:37am and I'm awake.
Not on purpose, actually, but never one to waste a good bout of insomnia, I've trolled a few writer's boards, googled my book, caught up on the news, and... decided to write a blog post about Author Brand.
You see, I've written some young adult science fiction novels. My "brand" was all about stories for young people - it was right there in my blog banner, "Conjuring Tales for Young Minds." Which was fine when I had only published YA and had a few MG manuscripts stuffed in the drawer. Then I published a future-noir. With death. And sex. Life hits and drug abuse. Needless to say my "brand" suddenly got a lot darker and grittier. And muddier.
Plus, in the next year, I plan to publish a middle grade fantasy, a steampunk romance, another young adult science fiction series, as well as Season Two of Debt Collector. These can all fit under the umbrella of Speculative Fiction, and perhaps that should be my new tagline:
Susan Kaye Quinn, Speculative Fiction Author!
all the zing of a dead possum, but functional and accurate
The freedom to publish that comes with being indie can easily mean a tangled mess when it comes to author brand. And if there's something the Blogosphere is Very Sure about, it's that Author Brand is Supremely Important. (Sorry, it's 12:37 am; the Capitalization Faery has been set loose.)
Is this cause for alarm?
I think not.
You see, I'm still the same author. I still write books that have mind-bending premises that make my readers think. I still revel in creating stories with wrenching emotional content, whether it's the love-story between a boy and his dad, or an aching need for love in a man who drowns himself in sex. I still like to look to the near future or alternate past, the shadow where stories hide just behind our eyelids, and explore what if... what if the world were filled with mindreaders? What if you could transfer life energy? What if a faery tricked you into swapping places and now there's only one body but two souls that need it?
Some people may like some of my stories and not others. I'm seriously okay with that. It could even be part of some devilishly clever plan of mine to grow a broad fanbase by dipping into many different genres.
Or I could be easily bored.
But my point (and I do have one, even at 12:37... wait, it's now 1:04 am), is that having the freedom to write anything means nothing if you don't exercise it. Having just come off a vacation to Washington D.C. on the Fourth of July, I have Freedom running through my veins, pumping me up with an appreciation of just how much of it we truly have as indie authors. I don't know about you, but I didn't realize how heavy the shackles of publisher expectations were until they fell away.
And I'll be damned if I'll let a silly thing like Author Brand stand in my way. I'll continue to write and publish the stories that speak to me... because I can. To mangle John Paul Jone's brave proclamation in service of indie freedom... I have not yet begun to write!